Brian Flores decided to pump up the volume on wide receiver Kenny Stills’ disdain for Jay-Z with a practice playlist the Miami Dolphins’ head coach said was intended to challenge the veteran receiver to perform under pressure.
One day after Stills — he has been outspoken regarding social activism and criticized owner Stephen Ross’ support of President Donald Trump — called out Jay-Z for saying he was “past kneeling,” the Dolphins came to practice and heard eight straight Jay-Z tunes. They were selected by Flores.
When the playlist ended, Flores challenged Stills in front of the team to put up or shut up.
“We talked about it in-house and he handled it in-house,” Stills, 27, said. “For the most part, I think it was him seeing if I could handle if people were going to heckle me or play Jay-Z in another stadium if I could be mentally strong enough to handle that sort of treatment. I’ve been dealing with this since 2016 — music, boos, racial slurs. So I don’t think a little Jay-Z music is going to ruffle my feathers that bad.”
Flores defended his choice of music and motivational ploys on Thursday.
“It was a challenge to Kenny to perform regardless of whatever is going on outside,” Flores said of playing the Jay-Z songs. “I would say, and I said this to him, he hasn’t performed up to that level over the course of training camp, or as I’ve seen. So that was the challenge — to get open, catch the football and make plays for this team, regardless of what’s going on outside of this building.”
Flores grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and said his stance on social activism is not a part of what he brings to practices. He said he supports those who use their voice — because they’re telling his own story.
“I’m a son of immigrants. I’m black. I grew up poor. I grew up in New York during the stop-and-frisk era. So I’ve been stopped because I fit a description before. So everything that these guys protest, I’ve lived it, I’ve experienced it. So I applaud those guys’ protest,” Flores said. “So whether it’s (Colin) Kaepernick, or Eric Reid or Kenny, I applaud those guys. I told Kenny that in our meeting in front of the entire team.
“I don’t know how many people have, but I lived it. So I understand why guys protest. And it’s important. And you know what else is important to me? There’s 89 guys in that locker room who are counting on Kenny to get open, catch the football and perform for this team.”
—Field Level Media